WHATIZIT? 7-31-14

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Let us warn you ahead of time, we experiencedWHATIZIT-1-31 a hiccup (and a couple of belches) with our internet and we can’t be 100 percent sure that we have all of your guesses from last week. We think we were close, though.

  The correct answer was that it was a big ol’ propane tank painted as a hot dog.
  Extra credit (getting your name in capital letters) went to those who knew this thing was in Chicago Ridge.
  The first correct guessers were LINDA and RUSS MARTIN of Worth.
  We also had a correct guess from Angie Kostecki from Houston, Texas, who was visiting folks in Evergreen Park.
  Worth’s ROBERT SOLNER guessed correctly and also correctly guessed pork chop from two weeks ago as well but it wasn’t officially recorded in the books.
  Evergreen Park’s Jan Merchantz guessed the tank but did not provide the location, so she is just a regular winner. Hickory Hills’ Jack and Griffin Faddis also guessed the propane tank but said it was in Snug Harbor Bay, Wis. We don’t know if Snug Harbor is lucky enough to have one of these, but this photo was taken in the Ridge.
  An incorrect guess was of the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile. Christeen Towner also guessed the Weinermobile but said it was in Chicago Ridge.
  For those who guessed and did not make the paper, let us know and we’ll have a fun time next week.
  This week’s clue is that this thing can kills you two different ways.
  Send those guesses to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Monday night. Put WHATIZIT in the subject line and don’t forget your name and hometown.

Photo by Jeff Vorva.

Jeff Vorva's ImPRESSions: Say hello to my little gift

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

 Jeffs Col ImpressionsI don’t believe in Christmas in July,Page-1-1-col-refer-Page-3-with-jv-colscarface gnome but it’s the final day of the month, and I found the perfect oddball gift if you want to get some early, early, early holiday shopping done.

This treasure comes from the Patriot Depot website, which offers “supplies for the conservative revolution.”
Now, I’m not a political guy, and I probably wouldn’t hang with people who wear shirts that say “Don’t Tread on Me”.
But I do know what makes me laugh. offers a .50 caliber bullet pen for $17.95, which just might be a little too overpriced for my taste. I like my pens free.
It also offers a spiffy BBQ gun lighter – M-16 edition – for $13.95. That’s not a bad price.
But the must-have gift would have to be a “Say hello to my little friend” garden gnome for $18.95.
The Patriot propaganda on this 9.5-inch bad boy says: “This gnome means business.  Anyone who enters your backyard will be greeted by Scarface the gnome, holding a gun and featuring the famous Al Pacino quote: ‘Say hello to my little friend.’ Guaranteed 100 percent effective against Zombie Gnomes.’’
Anyway, the thing looks funny and what tough-guy gardener wouldn’t be proud to have this gnome protecting the pansies or veggies?

Giving a Hoot

The Miss Hooters International award for 2014 went to Florida’s Janet Layug,a fitness model who won Page-1-2-col-pic-hooters-girl-copyHooters waitress and calendar girl Kelly Bronson participated in the Miss Hooters International Competition in Las Vegas. Photo by Michele Vasquez.Miss FLEX Bikini honors a year ago. She is a professional model and has entered this contest for the past couple of years so you might say she had a Layug up on the competition.
One of the other competitors in the event, which took place last Wednesday in Las Vagas, was Evergreen Park native Kelly Bronson, who works at the Hooters in Oak Lawn.
We ran a story on Bronson in our July 17 edition and she is not a model. She is a waitress with a son and the deck seemed stacked against her. But in her Facebook entry, she was gracious.
“Thank you to everyone who pushed for me during this whole journey of mine,” she wrote. “Evben though I didn’t place…this isn’t the end. Now I’m going to feast and enjoy eating greasy burgers and pizza…’’
And she finished it off with 16 exclamation points.

Don’t try this on the air

So with radio legend Dick Biondi coming to Crestwood for the Battle in the Burbs event a few Sundays ago, I thought I would take a look at his loooong career.
According to Wikipedia (so you know it has to be true), Biondi was working for a station in Buffalo, New York, WKBW in 1958.
He got a little ticked at his boss and joked on the air that fans should throw rocks at the boss’s car. Biondi described the boss’s car on the air and told his faithful listeners where the guy would be driving.
Well, someone did fire rocks at the car and the next day, Biondi was fired.

Eating like a dog

My favorite press release this month comes from Milo’s Kitchen:
It sayeth: “Building on the massively popular Chicago food truck trend, Milo’s Kitchen brand dog treats is launching Chicago’s first mobile food experience for dogs and their pet parents.
“With planned stops at the Windy City Pet Expo -- plus additional visits to 15 major metropolitan areas across the U.S. [] -- the Milo’s Kitchen Treat Truck will offer all of Chicago’s gour-mutts the chance to:

* Taste real chicken and beef home-style dog treats like Chicken Meatballs and Grilled Burger Bites -- all proudly made in the USA with 100 percent domestically-sourced meat and no artificial colors or flavors.
* Take a free family photo or “doggie selfie” (does this collar make me look cute?) in a professional canine-ready photo booth.
* Socialize with other four-legged friends in the backyard-style lapdog lounge
* Take a relaxing ‘walk break’ with dog beds, drinking bowls and puppy toys
* Bring home a doggie bag of tasty treats for lucky labs and hungry hounds
“The Milo’s Kitchen Treat Truck is free to the public.’’
Gour-mutts? Now that’s funny.


Quinn aims for working man image during Oak Lawn visit

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Gov. Pat Quinn was flanked by several men wearing hard hats and bright yellow vests last week during a groundbreaking ceremony at an Oak Lawn water pumping station.
The backdrop wasn’t by accident. Quinn wants to cast himself as the working man’s governor while distinguishing himself from his Republican opponent, millionaire Bruce Rauner, who often is described as a billionaire.
In fact, tax returns Rauner released last year showed that he earned about $108 million from 2010 and 2012, according to Sun-Times Media. Quinn, meanwhile, reported $162,000 on his 2013 tax returns.
Still, the Quinn camp’s strategy is clear: portray Rauner as rich and out of touch with the working man as well as the need for good paying jobs.
“We understand how important it is for work, for labor,” Quinn said during his remarks last Wednesday at the Harker Pumping Station, 5300 W. 105th St., where he signed legislation expanding the state’s Clean Water Initiative.
“Today, we have all these workers right here. Men and women who know how to get the job done on time, on budget or even under budget on an important water project. This is labor intensive. It puts people to work on jobs you can support a family on.”
Quinn went on to thank the unions represented at the ceremony and all the men and women of labor. “You’re the ones who get the job done,” he said.
He added that significant project such as the one in Oak Lawn also provide meaningful work for veterans who recently have returned from active duty.
Quinn did not want to pass up a chance to make a stop in the southwest suburbs—an area targeted by Rauner, who recently opened a campaign office in Oak Lawn.
In addition to signing the legislation, Quinn joined Oak Lawn officials and other dignitaries in a ceremonial grounding breaking for the expansion of the Harker Pumping Station, which will undergo a $171 million, five-year project designed to improve the water distribution system.
The system provides Lake Michigan water to about 325,000 Southland residents in the village and 12 other suburbs. When completed, the project will increase Oak Lawn’s water supply capacity from 55 million gallons a day to 111 million gallons, village officials said.
The 12 towns served by Oak Lawn are: Chicago Ridge, Palos Hills, Palos Park, Tinley Park, Oak Forest, Orland Park, Orland Hills, Country Club Hills, Matteson, Olympia Field, Mokena and New Lenox.
The project will include installation of a permanent diesel-powered generator at the Harker station, construction of a switching station designed to control the amount of power needed to pump water and the replacement of one pump.
Meanwhile, the Reich pumping station also will undergo modernization and will have pumps designated to distribute water to the system’s customers rather than just Oak Lawn residents.
More than half of the project cost is dedicated to the installation of larger water mains and a looped system that will serve as a backup if a primary line breaks.
State Sen. Dan Katowski, of Park Ridge, who sponsored the Clean Water Initiative legislation, championed Quinn as a friend of labor.
“This bill alone is going to lead to the creation of 28,000 local jobs,” Katowski said. “That’s the type of partnership has Governor Quinn has always been committed to by working together with local government.”
The Clean Water Initiative is designed to deter flooding and protect Illinois’ drinking water by helping municipalities repair or replace infrastructure.
“We’ve committed $2 billion to invest with communities like Oak Lawn,” Quinn said. “It’s all about clean water. We’ve got to make sure that we protect our water. We have to understand. We have to take good care of water.’’

Flooding frustration

  • Written by Kelly White

Hickory Hills to reconsider 1999 plan

designed to alleviate storm water woes

The concerns of two Hickory Hills residents adversely affected by the immense summer storms have led Mayor Mike Howley to call for reconsideration of a 1999 plan designed to alleviate flooding.
The residents, who live on 89th Street between 85th Court an 85th Avenue, appeared at last Thursday’s Hickory Hills City Council and told aldermen that recent storms have led to significant flooding in their backyards.
“The last major storm we’ve had was like a river going through my backyard,” said Jerry Roberts, who lives in the 8900 block of 85th Avenue. “One of my neighbors finished basement has flooded twice already this summer.”
Ken Blackman, who also lives on 85th Avenue, said he has experienced flooding problems for decades and described it as a “major catastrophe.”
“This has been an ongoing issue for 30-plus years,” Blackman told aldermen. “We can’t even do any landscaping in our backyards because of the flooding that accumulates during major storms.”
Blackman said the problem began several years ago when St. Patricia’s Church, 9000 S. 86th Ave, installed an asphalt extension to its parking lot.
The residents who live in the city’s flood zone flood have experienced three backyard flooding incidents this summer, they said.
“During larger rain storms, sewer caps are blowing off and there are floods in my backyard resembling rapids with dirty white and gray water,” Blackman said.
The water that accumulates in backyards between 85th Court and 85th Avenue flows from south of 95th Street and empties through a concrete channel that runs through a side yard at the corner of 85th Court and 91st Street, city engineer Tom Lang said.
The 1999 proposal called for the installation of reinforced concrete storm sewers along 85th Avenue, but cost prevented the plan form proceeding, said city engineer Tom Lang.
“This issue goes back to 1999 with a project costing half a million dollars at the time, and it was never built, “ Lang said. “I don’t know what construction cost index since then. I would bet another fifty percent, but that’s just a guess.”
Howley recalled cost being a major factor when the plan was brought forth 15 years ago.
“There were big costs involved when we looked at this before,” Howley said. “I’m not sure of the exact reason, but I’m presuming we backed out because of the number of houses affected versus the cost.”
Howley said the city must examine both the cost of the plan and benefits to the community.
“We have to look at the bigger picture,” the mayor said. “How will it improve the neighborhood? However, if the cost-benefit analysis does not factor out, we may need to look at alternative means of improving the situation for our residents that are affected.”
There might be other options to help fund the project, Lang said, including Cook County Disaster Funding.
“I have no idea what the chances are to getting any of that money, but there are some options out there,” City Engineer Tom Lang said.

Joint venture

  • Written by Declan Harty

Oak Lawn couple rolling along pain free after surgeries

She doesn’t walk like Quasimodo anymore.PAGE-1-3-col-jointsTom and Kathleen Naughton, posing with their dog Grace, say they feel like new people after their surgeries at Advocate Christ Medical Center. Photo by Jeff Vorva.

He is able to ride thousands of miles on his bike.
For Tom and Kathleen Naughton, being artificial is real.
Kathleen, a 52 year-old registered nurse, and Tom, a 55-year-old stationary engineer, reside in Oak Lawn and continue to live an active lifestyle as any other middle age couple would, but that would not be possible without the help of three artificial joints between the two.
A few years ago, they were both in constant pain and appeared older and slower than their ages would indicate.
Not anymore.
“It is a life-changer once you have this done,” Tom said of the surgery. “Well we are both active, we are both very active in that aspect of working out and staying healthier.”

According to Luke…
With the help of Dr. Kevin Luke, an orthopedic surgeon, and the staff at Advocate Christ Medical Center, the Naughtons said they would not be able to continue either an active lifestyle or their careers as they do.
After years of pain for the Naughtons, they decided to pursue joint replacement surgeries. Kathy became a patient initially of Luke when she was 47 years old, which is when they prepared her for two hip replacements totaling a bilateral hip replacement. For Tom, his knee replacement surgery took place in February 2013.
Luke said that for both the Naughton’s he used Stryker-made hips and a knee for Tom in hopes of aiding the couple for the next few decades.
“The concern is any time you replace someone’s joint is the longevity and how long it is going to work and do well,” Luke said.
He expressed that while the Stryker joints will be able to assist in the durability of the joints, it is on the patients to make the most out of the surgery, something the Naughton’s succeeded at, according to Luke.
“They both have a very strong rehab, a very strong work ethic,” he said. “Placing a joint replacement in someone is something that we do, we put them in, but it is really the patient who has to rehab and do the work to make it work correctly and work well. Like anything in life, if you work hard on it, you will get better faster.”
Surgery for the Naughtons was something that had been needed for many years though it wasn’t initially recognized for either.

Knee deep in pain
When Tom was 18, he had his torn meniscus removed from his knee therefore causing a bone on bone grind, was able to manage for several years before something had to be done.
Since the surgery, Tom said he has found a comfort in his new knee that he has missed for years. He has the ability to do many more activities such as cycling, which has become an outlet to exercise his newfound mobility in his knee.
After speaking with Luke for the first time, Tom said he became aware of a possibly larger issue than his knee -- his health.
“Dr. Luke is a pretty straight forward guy, and he told me, if you lose weight and if you are in good shape before the surgery, it makes it that much easier to do,” he said. “I had at least a full year of exercising and before I felt like I needed my knee done.”
With his new knee, Tom has ridden over 1,000 miles on his bike since March.

Quasimodo no more
Kathleen’s issues arose nearly 20 years ago when what she thought was back problems continued to affect her day-to-day life.
After going to countless doctors appointments and even having back surgery, Kathleen’s doctors decided to give Kathleen a full body X-ray to verify that the problem was fixed, but it was then that doctors realized the real problem, her hips. According to Kathleen, both her hips were bone on bone, similar to the issues of her husband’s knee.
After the surgery though, the couple faced many hours of rehabbing and attempting to get back into a normal routine such as work.
As a nurse, Kathleen said her work was deeply damaged by her problems with her hips. She said she “couldn’t physically” work a full shift before the surgery.
“I walked like Quasimodo for years, but I mean that was how I could get from point A to point B fairly comfortably and I could never stand straight,” she said. “Now since my hips are replaced, I am standing straight and walking straight. I can walk fast like I used to. People think I have lost weight, which I haven’t. I am just standing up straight.”
As a nurse with two replacement hips, Kathleen is able to continue to not only work at a higher efficiency level, almost working full time now, but also comfort her patients.
“Well it (surgery) was kind of scary because I knew all of the potential consequences that could occur,” Kathleen said. “When I am taking care of patients that are getting replacements, whatever it is -- knee or hip replacement -- I am a big advocate, saying, ‘It will change your life’.”
As a stationary engineer, both Tom and Kathy expressed mobility vitality in Tom’s job. With his knee replacement, Tom has been provided with more than just the opportunity to continue to work.
“I often wondered if I was going to be able to make it to 65 with my knees just because of the pain,” he said. “Now with the new knee, I am not worried about that at all. Another nice thing is the financial concern that I will be able to work at 65, and make it through my career.”
Luckily for Tom, the surgery did not prohibit much into his work schedule. According to Kathleen, Tom was able to return to work in just six weeks after the surgery on his knee.
When asked of the limitations of the surgery or their new replacement joints, both Tom and Kathleen expressed the fact that the couple did not have any, either from Luke or themselves, but only gratitude for what the surgery has provided them with.
“I am aware of my age, I am 55. The knee didn’t make me 25 again, I am still 55,” Tom said. “It was amazing to realize that the pain I had, it became so normal to walk with it, and then you walk so far, or the amount of Advil I was taking, it just became a daily thing. It was a huge difference with the new knee, and just the distance I could go.”